The 6 Cats of the Leopard Cat Lineage

The Leopard Cat lineage consists of six Asian wild cats - five of the Prionailurus genus, some of which occupy wetland habitats and one cat of the Otocolobus genus which occurs in Central Asia.

The Leopard Cat lineage is the second 'youngest' lineage that arose around 6.2 MYA (million years ago) from ancestors that crossed back to Asia from North America during the second ice age, and the resulting species mainly occupy Southern and Central Asia.

Going back further in Felidae evolution, this line descended from ancestors that migrated to North America from Asia following the first ice age 8 to 10 MYA, when the Bering Strait land bridge linked Asia and North America.

Prionailurus Genus

The five cats of the Prionailurus genus are Fishing Cat, Mainland and Sunda Leopard Cats, Flat-headed Cat and Rusty-spotted Cat.

3. Sunda Leopard Cat

(Prionailurus javanensis)

Sunda Leopard Cat (Prionailurus javanensis) - Leopard Cat Lineage

In 2017 the leopard cats were split into two species - mainland and island leopard cats, according to the revised Felidae taxonomy.

Otocolobus Genus

The Otocolobus genus consists of only one cat - Pallas's Cat.

Leopard Cat Lineage Classification

In scientific classification (taxonomy) the small Asian wild cats of the Leopard Cat lineage belong to the cat family Felidae and the small cat subfamily Felinae. The higher and lower classifications of this group are as follows:

Kingdom: Animalia   (animals)

Phylum: Chordata   (vertebrates)

Class: Mammalia   (mammals)

Order: Carnivora   (carnivores)

Suborder: Feliformia   (cat-like)

Family: Felidae (cats)

Subfamily: Felinae (small cats)

Genus: Prionailurus

Species: Prionailurus viverrinus (Fishing Cat)

Species: Prionailurus bengalensis (Mainland Leopard Cat)

Species: Prionailurus javanensis (Sunda Leopard Cat)

Species: Prionailurus planiceps (Flat-headed Cat)

Species: Prionailurus rubiginosus (Rusty-spotted Cat)

Genus: Otocolobus

Species: Otocolobus manul (Pallas’s Cat)

Other small Asian wild cats are grouped under the Felis lineage and the Bay Cat lineage and the big Asian cats under the Panthera lineage.

Leopard Cat Lineage Cat Quiz

1. Which two cat species live in aquatic habitats and have a primarily fish diet?

2. What features about these two cats are similar?

3. Which is one of the smallest cat species of all wild cats?

4. What is very different about the Pallas's Cat compared to most other cats?

5. Which is the most common small cat in Asia?

6. Which are the most threatened small cats in Asia?

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